Five and a Single

Bosco stood in front of his locker, only halfway paying attention to what he was doing. Getting ready to go home, putting away whatever he was still holding... he didn't really care what he left and what he took. Anything he needed he'd be back for, tomorrow.

He thought about heading for the gym; even at this hour Relcoe's would be open. They catered to a particular sort of crowd whose free time didn't always correspond to those of the normal eight-to-fivers. Not cops, or paramedics, or any of the sort he worked with. The crowd at Relcoe's was the type of crowd he'd known growing up. But he still fit in, sometimes better than he did at the station.

Going there would be better than going home, he told himself. Since he couldn't go over to Jimmy's...

He finished stowing his things and zipped closed the duffel bag he'd packed of items to take home to be cleaned. It didn't bother him that he was on his own this evening. Certainly not given Jimmy's reason: Kim was going over and the two of them were planning to talk about resuming Joey's visitation.

Jimmy had been practically bouncing off the walls for the last four days, ever since Kim had mentioned coming over tonight to talk about it. Bosco was happy for him -- for all that Jimmy had been through these last several weeks, nothing had affected him like losing time with his son. It had motivated him to honestly deal with his therapist far more than any of Bosco's threats had done. That he wasn't so sure he liked.

He understood it, of course. He just wasn't sure it sat well with him. He headed out of the locker room, though, putting it out of his mind at least until he reached Relcoe's. Then he could pound away at the kicking bag for all he was worth and think about the fact that soon things would settle into something he'd like to call normalcy.

He nodded at Davis on his way out, moving past the other cops still trying to finish up reports so they could head for home, and those trying to get out before remembering they'd forgotten one. It was a quiet night for New York City half an hour before midnight. Quiet in a way that meant that in a few days things would go crazy, just to even it out.

Bosco drove through the streets not thinking of much at all. He considered plans for tomorrow night if Jimmy were free. It was possible Kim would let him have Joey tomorrow night, which meant Bosco would be on his own again. He didn't think Jimmy would want to invite Bosco over, then try to explain to a six-year-old why telling mommy would be a bad thing. Despite Yokas' accepting reaction, Jimmy didn't want his ex knowing they were together.

And they were, despite everything. Back together, still together, Bosco wasn't exactly sure how to categorize it. They'd taken some time out, there after everything had come to pass. Not long, a couple of weeks. Just enough to give them both some space and time to reconsider.

Bosco had thought long and hard about what had gone on, telling himself that if it happened again he wasn't going to wait before doing anything about it. Then, after two weeks, Bosco had reconsidered that he was tired of the time alone and had gone over to Jimmy's one night after work. Jimmy had been happy to see him, happier to have him stay. Since then, they'd seen each other slightly less often than before -- and there had been no fights. Damned little arguing, as well, which Bosco didn't mind at all.

~~~~~

"Geez, what is it with people?" Bosco muttered, watching as the paramedics patched up a guy who had been venting his frustrations on a lamppost. Not surprisingly, he'd hurt himself, and the amount of blood from the simple scalp wound had frightened a local shopkeeper into calling 911.

He and Yokas had responded to the call -- because she had picked up the radio before he could tell her not to. He'd known it was a useless call when it had come over, and would rather have let Sully take it and leave them free.

"Leave him alone," Yokas said in a scolding tone, as she came over beside him. "Can't you see he's suffered enough?" She kept her face almost completely straight, but spoke low enough that the victim couldn't overhear.

"Yeah, he's suffering all right." He just shook his head.

They watched for a bit, then Yokas asked, "Hey, you two still coming over Saturday? I have to call Fred at our next break and remind him to hit the grocery store."

"Yeah, we'll be there," he replied, glancing over to where Kim and Bobby were working. "We still just need to bring drinks and dessert?"

Yokas nodded, "Don't worry, we'll let you do the dishes to even things up."

"Thanks." He rolled his eyes at her.

"Hey, we're through here," Kim interrupted. "He doesn't need transport, so he's all yours."

"Oh, good. I'll go get his report and see if he still wants us to arrest the guy who put in the lamppost." Yokas shook her head, and moved away. Bosco watched her go, and caught Kim looking at him strangely.

He nearly snapped a 'what?' at her, but then stopped himself. Kim just shook her head as if confused. "What?" He didn't say it quite so sharply as he'd almost done.

"Nothing, I just... well, Jimmy asked my mother for her chocolate cake recipe. Said he was going to a friend's for dinner, and had to bring dessert."

As casually as he could, Bosco shrugged. "So?"

"So, you aren't still seeing him are you?"

For a long second Bosco heard nothing. Not the roar of traffic, the load buzz of the pedestrians. Not his own voice as he tried to say, "What are you talking about?" He knew Jimmy hadn't told her, because he had gone on about it for half an hour after Bosco had passed along Yokas' invitation for this weekend.

"I thought you two broke up after..."

"You knew?" He couldn't believe it. Lord, did everyone know? Did they have signs on their foreheads?

She gave him another, still confused look. "Well, yeah. I mean, Jimmy never actually said so, but it wasn't hard to figure out. When you and Yokas came to the station to arrest him -- you had bruises on your face, too." Her confused tone had given way to something more gentle.

Bosco still couldn't believe it. He wanted to just walk away, get back in the squad and go somewhere else.

"So, you are still seeing him?" she asked again, sounding faintly worried.

He looked at her. "Yeah, I'm still seeing him." Maybe he should just rent a billboard.

That piece of information upset her. Bosco found it curious, since she hadn't sounded particularly upset before, simply knowing they'd been together. He raised an eyebrow at her, but she just shook her head. "Hope things work out." Then she walked away. Bosco just watched her go.

That night he was over at Jimmy's. He'd been arguing with himself about telling his lover, all evening. For an hour or so Yokas had helped him argue, mostly pointing out reasons why he should. He didn't want to -- but he knew it was just hesitation to bring up something they might potentially fight about.

He didn't want to find out that Jimmy hadn't changed all that much. At the advice of his therapist, he had started boxing at a local gym -- diffuse the stress he'd been taking out on Bosco. It had seemed to worked, but they hadn't really tested it. They'd both been avoiding talking about any of the things that had lead them to arguing. In the end, Bosco realised he had to tell Jimmy, if for no other reason than he deserved to know.

He tried to work his way up to it, stalling all through dinner and post-dinner necking and clean-up. Finally, though, he headed for the living room and sat down. Jimmy followed, curiously. "What's up?"

Bosco sighed. "I saw Kim, today, on a call."

"Yeah?" Jimmy didn't look concerned.

"She figured out we're dating." He forced himself to relax as he said it.

Jimmy's expression didn't change, at first. "She did?"

So far, so good. At least he wasn't yelling. "Yeah. Back when... Yokas and I came over that day. She saw the bruises on my face, guess she put three and three together."

"Did she... say anything? I mean, was she OK with it, or...?" Jimmy sounded upset, but more cautious than angry. Nervous, as if Kim might have objections which could lead her to refusing him contact with Joey.

Bosco shrugged. "I think so. She said she hoped things worked out. But..." He shook his head. His instincts were telling him something more was going on. "She seemed concerned about something." He didn't know what, but maybe Jimmy could find out. If it was something that affected him, which was likely.

Jimmy, however, just shrugged and sat down, nervous anxiety already vanishing. "Maybe she was worried about last night."

"What happened?" They'd already talked about it over dinner -- Jimmy was going to get Joey back next month if things continued going well. Kim had apparently apologised, but stood by her decision. Jimmy told Bosco he agreed with her -- not because Joey had been in any danger, but because Kim's first loyalty was to her son.

"She stayed the night."

Bosco blinked. "Oh."

~~~~~

The next day Bosco and Yokas were at lunch when they saw Kim and Bobby again. Kim just glanced their way and headed over to another table. Bosco gave his partner a confused look.

"I thought Jimmy was gonna talk to her," Yokas asked.

"I thought he was, too. He left early this morning to stop by her place."

"I wonder what happened," she mused.

"Why don't you go find out?" Bosco suggested, knowing that she would eventually, anyhow. Might as well be now and satisfy his own curiosity. he had to give her a pleading look, before she sighed, and nodded.

"All right." Her hesitation was feigned, Bosco knew. She was eagerly following the daily gossip from his love life, and probably wanted to talk to Kim more than Bosco did. She got up and carried her plate over to Kim's table. Bosco watched her go, then glanced up as Bobby stepped up beside his.

"Looks like your partner stole my seat. Mind if I--?"

"No, go ahead." Bosco looked at him, trying to remember the last time he actually talked to Caffey, much less sat down for half an hour with him. Bobby was the sort you lusted after from afar, but only actually passed the time of day with.

Bobby was looking at him strangely, which made him wonder if he'd been supposed to have said 'no'.

"So what's up?" he asked, not willing to spend the rest of his lunch break wondering what he'd done to make the other man look at him like Caffey couldn't figure him out.

"Kim said you and Jimmy are still together."

Bosco groaned. "Does your whole freaking station know about that?"

Bobby shrugged. "No, just our shift. But she said--"

"What?" He couldn't believe his ears.

Bobby paused. "Just our shift."

Bosco let his head fall onto the table. Maybe he should request a transfer -- to Mazabuka. Zimbabwe was nice this time of year.

"Relax, Bosco -- nobody cares."

Bosco closed his eyes and kept his head down. "You do realise that if anyone at my station finds out, I'm in trouble, don't you? Cops aren't like you people."

"Yeah, they have bad tempers," Bobby said. Bosco raised his head to glare at him. Bobby looked briefly uncomfortable before resuming the original conversation. "She said..." Or trying to.

Bosco waited. Then, "Said what? You might as well spill it. This day can't get any worse." The quiet night had very definitely been balanced by today's calls, and the shift wasn't even half over.

"Um, she said... that Jimmy said you knew she... slept with him."

"Yeah?"

"She didn't know you were still together," Bobby said quickly, and Bosco realised he was apologising for her.

He didn't know why, however. "So?"

"So?" Bobby gave him a look of disbelief. Bosco figured out why just as he said the next. "She wouldn't have done it, if she'd known. She wanted to apologise, but Jimmy seemed to think--"

"That I don't care?" He shrugged. "I don't."

"You what?" That seemed to surprise him.

"I don't care." He found it a bit surreal to be explaining this to Bobby, but he tried, anyhow. "Look, I don't need a monogamous relationship with him. If he wants to sleep with Kim, I don't have a problem with that."

Bobby stared at him as if he didn't believe what he was hearing. Bosco didn't blame him -- it seemed like gay men were the only ones who ever admitted to wanting to sleep around.

They weren't the only ones who did want to. But they were the only ones who admitted it. Bosco honestly didn't mind, though. If Jimmy wanted to sleep with Kim, or anyone else for that matter, it was fine with him. He suspected that it would only be Kim, though -- he had a feeling Jimmy was still in love with her. He wasn't so sure he didn't mind that part of it. But it wasn't a big enough deal to mention to Jimmy, or Bobby.

"You don't have a problem with it? What if he does it again?" Bobby was still bewildered.

"I won't mind," he repeated.

"You don't see it as cheating on you?" Bobby asked.

"As long as he doesn't lie to me about it, no. I don't."

"That's what Jimmy said."

"So?" Bosco prompted, a few moments later. If Jimmy had already told them, why was Bobby so surprised? Or, for that matter, worried about Kim?

But Bobby shook his head. He still seemed upset, but wasn't talking.

Bosco wasn't going to push him. He turned his attention back to his lunch, wondering what Yokas was getting from Kim. He realised that he hadn't told her any of this part of it and wondered just what she'd say. Probably nothing. Or tell him he was insane. It amounted t the same thing, really.

Lunch was almost over, and they'd simply sat there in silence. Just before he was ready to leave, Bosco said, "Hey, if it makes you feel any better, I'll sleep with you and we'll all be even."

He stood up and walked off, enjoying the dumbfounded expression on the other man's face.

~~~~~

"You have to talk to her."

"Why do I have to talk to her?" Bosco demanded, glad Yokas was driving so he could turn and glare at her all he liked. She had waited nearly five minutes after lunch before starting in on him.

"Because she doesn't believe Jimmy. She's worried, Bos. You know why they got divorced."

He sighed. Yokas was going to harangue him all shift. Apparently Kim had confessed all to Yokas -- mostly all, anyhow. Enough. She was afraid she had given Bosco reason to break up with Jimmy, despite Jimmy's reassurances. He'd tried pointing out that he'd told all this to Bobby, so chances were that Kim would be hearing it by now, anyway. Yokas didn't seem to think that counted.

He was about to give in when they got a call. He grabbed the radio to acknowledge, while Yokas flipped on the lights and they headed out.

"You have to talk to her," she said a moment later.

"Clear," he told her as they approached an intersection. "Will you just drive? Clear!"

"Talk to her, Bos."

"I will! Geez! Clear!"

"Fine."

Bosco wished he could take his eyes off the road long enough to roll them at her.

They ended up chasing the intruder out of the store where he'd been harassing the folks. It was a young man, maybe nineteen, very skinny and very fast. As Yokas called for back-up Bosco set off after him. He followed the guy down the street and through an alleyway, leaping over piles of trash and drunks, gaining headway inch by inch.

He nearly lost his footing when the perp led him through an alley slick with something Bosco didn't want to identify, but he reached out and grabbed something, pushed himself back up, and continued after. He nailed the kid twenty yards later, latching onto him and hurling him sideways.

They both stumbled and fell, Bosco levering himself up and hanging onto the kid to prevent him from getting away. As soon as he had the kid under control, Yokas came running up from the other end of the alley. The kid was already cussing them both out; Bosco told him to put a cork in it or he'd be missing some teeth. They got him cuffed, and Bosco started to lead him away when he realised that his hand was bleeding.

"Looks pretty bad. You wanna call the paramedics?"

Bosco gave her a flat look. "No, I don't need to call the paramedics." He got out a handkerchief and began wrapping his hand. "I think I can survive a trip to the hospital in the squad."

"Yeah? What about him?" Yokas indicated the guy he'd caught. "You gonna bleed while we take him back to the station?"

"I'm fine," he insisted.

Which meant, of course, that Yokas called the paramedics. She put the guy in their squad for safe-keeping, then sat with Bosco on the trunk of the squad while they waited.

It was Kim and Bobby who pulled up. Yokas gave him a warning look, as they came over.

"What have we got?" Kim asked. Yokas pointed to Bosco, who reluctantly held out his hand. She began to unwrap the blood-soaked handkerchief. "Wow, that's pretty deep. Does it hurt?"

"No." He paused, then, feeling stupid because both Yokas and Bobby were right there, listening, he said, "Look, Kim--"

She glanced at him. "I know. Bobby told me."

Bosco hoped he wasn't blushing. It was like being on stage or something, everyone watching to see what happened next. "So are we cool?" he asked.

She half-smiled, and shrugged. "If you are. You're the one who should be upset. This is going to need stitches."

"Wonderful. And no, I'm not upset."

"Then we're fine." She sounded casual, and Bosco wondered if she, too, was feeling self-conscious. He gave her a half-grin, which she returned. Bosco turned to Yokas. "Happy?"

"Delighted. I'll meet you at the hospital." Bosco stood up and headed towards the ambulance with the paramedics. Yokas looked over as she went to the driver's side of the squad and added, "If you're good maybe I'll buy you a snowcone."

Bosco called back, "Anything but grape!"


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